The conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said on his live show on Monday that he had advanced lung cancer.
He told listeners that he had noticed some shortness of breath but was not experiencing symptoms at the moment, and that he would continue working but would be absent from the show for a couple of days to undergo testing and determine a treatment plan.
“I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this, but the upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer,” Mr. Limbaugh, 69, said during his broadcast. He added that he first realized something was wrong on Jan. 12 and that the diagnosis had been confirmed by two medical institutions on Jan. 20.
[Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union.]
“My heart’s in great shape, ticking away fine, squeezing and pumping great,” he said. “It was not that. It was a pulmonary problem involving malignancy. So I’m going to be gone the next couple days as we figure out the treatment course of action and have further testing done. But as I said, I’m going to be here as often as I can.”
“The Rush Limbaugh Show,” which is broadcast every weekday from noon to 3 p.m., is a top-rated program on Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia. It was a hit when it debuted in 1988 and has remained popular, especially among grass-roots conservatives, for more than three decades. Mr. Limbaugh has been a staunch ally of President Trump.
In a statement on Monday, Bob Pittman, the chairman of iHeartMedia, and Rich Bressler, the president, called Mr. Limbaugh “a colleague and a dear friend.”
“He has developed a deeply personal relationship with his listeners and he intends to remain on the air, being there with his audience,” they said. “We know millions of people nationwide join me and all of iHeart in wishing him a full recovery.”
Supporters of Mr. Limbaugh shared messages of encouragement on social media.
“He has inspired a generation to enter politics, including myself,” Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Mr. Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, said in a tweet. “We are fighting with you, Rush!!!”
Mr. Limbaugh’s cultural influence has been questioned by some listeners and sponsors. Mr. Limbaugh was admonished by ESPN in 2003 for suggesting that the N.F.L. player Donovan McNabb was being praised because the media was “very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” He was also criticized for saying in 2009 that President Barack Obama’s “entire economic program is reparations,” and for using the term “uppity-ism” in reference to Michelle Obama in 2011. And his show suffered in 2012 after he attacked Sandra Fluke, a law student whom he mocked as a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she spoke to a congressional hearing about birth control; many sponsors withdrew their advertising from the show in protest.
In 2008, Mr. Limbaugh signed a $400 million, eight-year deal with Premiere Radio Networks, among the most lucrative deals in radio at the time. He renewed his contract in 2016, promising his listeners four more years. And last month, Mr. Trump revealed at a rally that Mr. Limbaugh had signed another four-year contract, CNN Business reported.
In 2003, Mr. Limbaugh acknowledged an addiction to prescription painkillers and entered a rehabilitation center. He was arrested on prescription drug charges in 2006, but made a deal with prosecutors that spared him a trial. Mr. Limbaugh complained of chest pains in late 2009, but said testing at the time seemed inconclusive.
Mr. Limbaugh, who has said he started smoking cigarettes as a teenager but quit by the early 1980s, and who has often been photographed smoking a cigar, questioned the link between smoking and cancer in 2015.
Talkers, a trade publication covering talk radio, ranked Mr. Limbaugh the second most important radio host of 2019, after his fellow conservative commentator Sean Hannity.
“I wish I didn’t have to tell you this,” Mr. Limbaugh said of his cancer diagnosis on Monday. “And I thought about not telling anybody. I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, because I don’t like making things about me. But there are going to be days that I’m not going to be able to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment. And I know that that would inspire all kinds of curiosity, with people wondering what’s going on.”